Sam Mitchell gets new contract from Raptors
The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have re-signed Head Coach Sam Mitchell to a four-year contract. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Mitchell was awarded the Red Auerbach trophy as 2006-07 NBA Coach of the Year in April and last week received coach of the year honours from The Sporting News. In his third season with the Raptors, Mitchell led the club to its first Atlantic Division title, a franchise record-tying 47 wins, and home court advantage in the playoffs for the first time in team history. His squad posted an NBA-best 20-game improvement (27-55) over the 2005-06 season.
“At season's end we discussed the coaching picture as a priority for this franchise, and that Sam Mitchell was the right coach for this team. More specifically, I made our intent to resign Sam very clear. I'm happy to announce today Sam has been justly rewarded for his efforts of leading this team in all that we accomplished,” said Bryan Colangelo, president and general manager of the Raptors. “I also know Sam accepts the challenge that lies ahead for a team with higher than ever expectations, where continuity and stability should play a major role.”
In January, Mitchell became only the second coach in Raptors history to earn Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honours after leading the team to a 10-5 record. During the month, Toronto recorded a 7-3 mark at home and was 8-2 versus Eastern Conference opponents. January was the Raptors’ first 10-win month since January 2002 (11-5) and the fifth double-digit win month in franchise history. The Raptors finished January leading the Atlantic Division by one game with a 23-23 record and then compiled a 24-12 record to close out the rest of the season. He led the Raptors to an 11-4 mark down the stretch after losing starting forward Jorge Garbajosa to a season-ending ankle injury and rookie of the year runner-up Andre Bargnani for 14 games with an appendectomy and infection.
“I’d like to thank Bryan and the board of directors for the opportunity to continue the work we began last season to build a team that’s capable of competing for an NBA Championship,” Mitchell said. “The great fans in Toronto have embraced me, and I never imagined being anywhere else. There’s a tremendous commitment within our organization to build a championship caliber team, and with young players like Chris Bosh, T.J. Ford, Andrea Bargnani, and Jose Calderon this team has a chance to grow together to reach that level. Our players and staff are going to work hard this off-season with the expectation that next season will be the best yet for the Toronto Raptors.”
Mitchell, 43, has posted a three-year mark of 107-139 (.435), but his development of a team in transition has been apparent. In the 2005-06 season, Mitchell and his staff oversaw the maturation of Chris Bosh into an NBA All-Star and the development of rookies Jose Calderon, Joey Graham and Charlie Villanueva. In his first season, he implemented a more up-tempo style of play that saw the team’s points per game average increase by 14.3 over the previous season, the third-highest jump in NBA history.
Mitchell was named the sixth head coach in franchise history June 29, 2004. In May of 2004, he was named the lead assistant coach of the expansion Charlotte Bobcats. He assisted them in player workouts and draft preparation during his brief stay. He spent the prior two seasons (2002-04) on the Milwaukee Bucks’ bench, first assisting George Karl and then Terry Porter. The Bucks qualified for postseason play the two years with Mitchell as an assistant.
Mitchell split his playing career between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers. He appeared in 994 regular season games and 59 postseason contests, missing just 40 games to injury or illness throughout his career. He posted averages of 8.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists. He ranks first all-time in Timberwolves history in games played with 757 and second with 7,161 points, 1,773 free throws made, 2,664 field goals made, 3,030 rebounds and 449 steals.